Cleaning out the old place was taking forever. There was my brother with a
spray-bottle of Windex wiping down a big mixing bowl full of Hot Wheels
cars. Most he put into a shopping bag for the sale, but some he arranged
bumper to bumper circle the wagons style around his plate. “These are my
old ones”, he said, indicating his circular little traffic jam. With a smile that
made him look nine years old again, he showed me a “Z” scratched into the
dull grey underside of a car. He laughed, ”Z is for Zorro”.
The dog was little and had a face like something you’d scrub pots with.
I had to bend over to hear what he were saying, and spilled my drink
on you by mistake. You started yelling “I’m melting!, I’m melting!”
Immediately I recognized Toto, grabbed him, and lit out for Kansas.
Duckie Wow knew it wasn’t everybody’s dream job, but he liked it, and was good at it too. None, absolutely none, of the Empire State Building postcards sold in the Big Apple depicted a giant ape swatting at bi-planes, so for a nickel apiece Duckie painted one in. They sold great!
Rainbow apes for the Pride parade, green ones for Saint Pat’s. He painted them all, big batch or small, for any occasion in every corner of the city no matter how obscure.
Time marched on, as it does, and both of Duckie’s hands fell off. “Too much ape painting”, the
doctors said. But then even at only a nickel a clip he was a millionaire. Sure, it would have been easy enough to have some computer thing do the work now, but that didn’t feel right to Duckie.
He did the honorable thing and hired monkeys to do the work. Not all, but enough ofthe monkeys were decent painters. This allowed the company to expand and to do fairs, and festivals, even have a few permanent locations. The most successful one was at Niagara Falls, right next to the wax museum. For five bucks newlyweds could get their portraits painted on the Mighty Kong’s butt.
I was reading reviews of cat toys, specifically catnip mice. You could say I was in the market.
“Mittens played with it once” (with pictures), or “Pickles completely ignored it” (also with
pictures). The review that stood out was from a lady who bought a cheap pair of mice, and sewed
them on her Cinderella Halloween costume.
Months later, she decided to wear the dress to her friend’s wedding, and took the mice off.
Was it a cosplay wedding? How did the bride feel about Cinderella coming to her ball?
Valet parking for a pumpkin coach? I had questions.
As an after thought she gave the discarded mice to her cat, who absolutely could not care less.
I pulled out my credit card and ordered a pair for $4.
Spreading wicked stories about the girls from St. Margaret’s might be a sin,
but is is eating someone’s brains, and try telling that to my zombie cousins
from New Jersey.
Once in awhile we have something that our trash guy won’t take.
Like the dead Roomba robot vacuum cleaner we put out on the curb.
The heavy rechargeable battery make it an eco-recycle disaster.
So instead I leaned it against the big donation box in front of the liquor store. Let it be somebody’s drunk DIY project.
When the money people ran out of what ever made computer chips smart somebody floated the idea of using recycled dead people instead. There were plenty of them around after the same rich people had privatized heaven into a for profit situation, and not everybody wanted to go. The Bible ducks balked at the idea, plus most families simply couldn’t afford it. If the deceased were willing to have their consciousness transferred into a cheap little blank chip they’d be put it into some devise that related to their interests or work history. There were plenty of jokes about politicians and sex toys, but usually things worked out okay. Dead movie people became popcorn makers, dead lawyers became weed whackers, and down the list were the options of counter top appliances, robot vacuum cleaners, and the like. My recently departed Aunt was always an early bird and enjoyed being an alarm clock. She picked up temp work as a truck back up buzzer to help fill her days. Eventual she was able to go full time as a Walk – Don’t Walk sign for the city.
She couldn’t tell, honestly couldn’t, if it was Carl or Bernice who came to the door and asked to borrow a cup of spit. They were spirit people (not nice to say ghosts) and new to the neighborhood. She told whoever it was to come back later, maybe after dinner, and promised to work on filling a cup, but now she had her doubts. Patrick called them her “bardo buddies” dismissing the whole matter so he was no help.
What did they need it for, and borrow? “Borrow” as in bringing one back to replace the first? She didn’t want anything back, not even the cup. What could they need it for? Why can’t they use their own? Maybe spirit people don’t salivate, maybe they do. Who knows? Oh crap, just give it to them.
Say it’s a Welcome to your afterlife in our neighborhood gift. But then Bernice or Carl or whoever might feel obligated to give her something. Well, it would have to be better than a cup of spit wouldn’t it? Some unwanted swag-bag bon-voyage pre-death memento.
As long as it wasn’t alive. God knows the cat is enough to deal with.
Dear Grandfather Gerard,
I hope you don’t mind me calling you that, but it’s how we referred to you all these years. We assumed you were dead; lost in the war with so many others. Your letter was full of news, and we hunger for more. Especially about your “whole new family”.
There is much news here of course, and I promise to share more in my next letter, but business first. I must decline your offer to bequeath our family’s legendary sword on to me. Being out of touch for so long you wouldn’t know, but I have been an ordained priest in the Church of the Everlasting for a number of years. As a man of the cloth I can not accept an ancient sword that draws unholy powers from shall we say “the dark side”. A 600 year old broadsword carrying a blood curse would be truly unacceptable.
My sister Geraldine is first officer on a merchant spacecraft that travels a circuitous route through the outer mining colonies and alien worlds. She and her partner Zinnia find themselves from time to time in difficult situations. Be it a misunderstanding or an imagined slight, the potential for violence is real enough and a huge sword with glowing runes that as you describe as “a drinker of souls” could turn the tide as they say.
I spoke to Gerri and Zinni and they are just thrilled by the idea and will gladly assume the stewardship and responsibilities that come with the sword. Their address is listed below.
Till next time, In faith and prayer,
Fr. Charles Metronome
Everybody loved Uncle Zid. I know I sure did. He was hilarious, always with a joke. Like in the summer when he’d drive around in his old convertible dressed like Santa, blowing the horn and waving. He’d call the radio station and in a funny voice ask what day Cinco de Mayo was on this year (and the DJ would throw the question out to the listeners!). He was serious as can be though when he’d call in and insist they play the Tuna Fish Polka during Lent. What a guy, my Uncle Zid.
Grandma GiGi says he’s got an ice cream route on Mars now. He rings his bell as he pedals along through those tunnels. She says the kids love him, and he’s making good money. But then again, could be he’s back in prison.